Football: Sport on TV: Pub performers given final push by a safe pair of hands

THERE ARE some great stories about the motivational methods used by football managers over the years in the dizzy pursuit of success. At Crystal Palace during the 1970s, to take an example from nowhere in particular, Malcolm Allison once famously invited the soft-porn actress Fiona Richmond into the communal bath with the team ("I felt she'd been working very hard," Big Mal would explain later. What happened when the players worked hard is anyone's guess).

Then there was Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, whose more innocent practice of buying ice lollies for players as a reward for hard work in training seemed to pay far more handsome dividends.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, the methods called upon by all-round steady influence David Seaman in Guiding Stars (Sky One, Sunday) were based on the teachings of neither of these great men. In the programme, the Arsenal and England goalkeeper was given a managerial debut challenge of turning around the fortunes of Chiltern FC, a hapless Sunday league pub side who had never before made it past the first round of their local knockout tournament, the Bill Finch Subsidiary Cup.

Seaman spent six months overseeing training sessions and generally knocking the side into shape, relying on a mixture of jolly laughter and morale- boosting bobble hats as his chief psychological weaponry. Despite one or two teething problems - his ill-advised suggestion that the players stay away from the pub on Saturday night and stick to a diet of boiled chicken was greeted with general hilarity - the tactics seemed to work. By the end of the first episode of this two-parter, Chiltern had scraped through to the final after a series of cliffhanging extra-time victories.

It all made for compulsive viewing, just watching the matches brought memories of Sunday morning hangovers flooding back, but at the same time it was difficult not to feel sorry for the other teams in the competition who were clearly no longer competing on a level playing field, despite the best efforts of Seaman and the cameras to maintain a low profile.

Narrated by Mark Radcliffe, Guiding Stars promises more of the same in the coming weeks - Lawrence Dallaglio is scheduled for an appearance at some stage, I wonder if he'll be showing prospective young rugby players how to go about arranging a sponsorship deal.

There was hardly long enough to stock up on lager and curry again before the ever-majestic Mark and Lard were back on our screens. This time they were at the helm of Match of the Nineties (BBC1, Monday), as we were time- warped back through the mists to 1998 - the year in which Arsenal won the Double, Chelsea won the Cup-Winners' Cup and the English adopted David Beckham as their official National Hate Figure.

A vintage year then, made all the more poignant by the realisation that the final whistle, surely with no prospect of extra time, looms large for this consistently mighty series. As ever there were no shortage of talking points, with Mark and Lard in customary fine form, yet it was a crafty reverse pass by the producers midway through the programme that really caught my imagination.

The trick was as simple as it was inspired: take the match highlights, strip away the TV sound and replace it with commentary of the same game from Radio Five Live's Alan Green and Ron Jones. Whether it was a move borne out of expediency or sheer genius, it certainly worked. I was left pondering why - and I intend no disrespect to either Lord Motson or Sir Barry of Davies, God bless you squires, long may you reign - the brilliant duo never made that supposed step onwards and upwards into the television gantry.

Personally I'd like to see Mark and Lard, or maybe even Reeves and Mortimer, given the chance to do radio commentary on the FA Cup final. Apart from anything, it would be interesting to see how many people turned off their TV volume and switched on the radio instead.

As to whether it work, you only have to look as far as Australia, where Roy Slaven and HG Nelson's surreal and extremely funny radio commentaries on the Aussie Rules and Rugby League Grand Finals are a national institution.

The week's award for commentating excellence, however, goes to Johnathan Gould and Todd Macklin of Major League Baseball (Channel Five, Monday), whose live feed of the game between New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians was stripped of any sound whatsoever for the first four innings by Hurricane Floyd. As it was, the boys made a sterling recovery despite the added problem of a complete lack of action in the game. One you could definitely describe as a storming performance.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat